Qantas is planning ‘artificial meat’ meals on flights, in lounges
Get ready for the ultimate taste-test: can a ‘fake meat’ burger at the lounge taste like just the real thing?
Executive Traveller exclusive
Meat-free burgers, bolognese and schnitzels could be on the menu at Qantas lounges and onboard flights by the end of this year, with the airline developing a range of dishes using artificial meat designed to look, smell and taste like the real thing.
“We're doing a lot of menu planning for the future in the next month, and I think in the next six months we're hoping to launch some things” Qantas chef Neil Perry tells Executive Traveller.
“We’ll have a complete plant-based dish on each of the menus and we’ve also started looking at plant-based meats like Beyond, Impossible and V2, which is an Australian product.”
US startup Impossible Foods is a hero of the booming ‘fake meat’ industry. Its Impossible Burger has already been rolled out by Air New Zealand, American Airlines – as a vegan alternative to its Flagship Lounge Burger – and Delta Air Lines.
United Airlines now offers Impossible Meatball bowls on domestic first class flights and Impossible Sausage patties at Polaris business class lounges.
Perry has also partnered with home-grown V2 Food at his Margaret Restaurant in Sydney’s Double Bay to add more plant-based items to a fine dining menu already strong on sustainability, “and we even do meals at home with V2 at the moment… out of our five family meals a week, we'll have at least two that don't have a meat or fish protein base.”
Backed by Australia’s CSIRO, V2 has also been making inroads to the mainstream, from Hungry Jack’s flame-grilled Rebel Whopper burger to the shelves of Woolworths and Coles supermarkets (alongside competitors Impossible and Beyond Meat).
“We'll decide which company we’re going to go with how that’s going to affect the menus going forward from next year,” Perry says.
But carnivores need not panic: this doesn’t mean the end of the business class steak sandwich or the economy choice of ‘chicken or beef’.
“I don’t think we’ll ever cut meat out of our diet and I don’t think we should. In my view it’s just about balance and changing people's perception of how much meat they have to eat.”
Humans are “kind of hardwired to eat meat,” Perry reasons, “so getting people to eat more plant-based meats and realise how delicious they are, and that they kind of (satisfy) that meat craving is a way to get that balance… we can give people the pleasure and satisfaction of eating a meat meal.”
Perry’s artificial meat menus will build on the airline’s introduction of plant-based meals across all cabins from November 2021, reflecting a growing trend towards healthier lifestyles – especially on long overseas trips where you’re sitting for hours end.
It’s certainly welcome news for the legion of vegans and vegetarians who too often get the short end of the celery stick when it comes to inflight meals.
But plenty of flesh-eaters are simply becoming more aware and, dare we say, more mindful of their diet – including adopting ‘meat-free Monday’ (reportedly created by Paul McCartney in 2009) to help balance out the remaining six days of the week.
Visitors to Qantas’ airport lounges could be the first to sample the airline’s fake meat menu because “we have an opportunity in lounge to be a bit more nimble and bring things in faster (than on flights),” Perry explains.
“Domestic is faster than international, and lounges are faster than both of those.”
Additional reporting by David Flynn
Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Qantas is planning ‘artificial meat’ meals on flights, in lounges
11 Sep 2015
Total posts 194
Glad to hear Qantas is assessing several of these 'fake meat' brands and that Perry is already working with V2 at his restaurant, this is good real world experience. I've tried the Impossible and V2 burgers and they're pretty good! Personally I would always choose the real thing but my partner is vegan and she enjoys being able to tuck into a 'burger' every now and again. Vegans have been putting up with pretty lacklustre menus on Qantas for a long time now compared to SQ for example, so this is a step in the right direction.
Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards
25 Jul 2013
Total posts 68
A move in the right direction!
On a side note, I was in the Virgin Aus lounge in Adelaide early the other morning and they had vegan raspberry croissants. Was fabulous!
25 Feb 2015
Total posts 43
Fascinating, and a positive step. I was pretty unimpressed the other day when on domestic economy ADL-MEL and SYD-ADL there was only one menu item (no longer any choice like before) and it contained bacon. The vegetarian sitting beside me asked for another option and was handed a packet of those bar snack dry crackers. For an airline that projects itself to be woke on a lot of issues it seems a pretty low cost cutting measure to ignore one fairly large cohort of society and common dietary needs like this. (For the record I’m not vegetarian myself).
25 Jun 2019
Total posts 3
There are so many tasty vegetarian dishes that they could serve. Why go down the path of "fake meat"? Try to emulate the exact taste and texture that vegetarians avoid... I see these pleasing the "ethical" vegetarian or carnivore who thinks they are doing better for the planet by eating these highly processed fake meats.
As I vegetarian myself, I've been struggling at restaurants my whole life, but there was always at least one nice vegetarian dish on the menu. Now a lot of those are being replaced by these "fake meat" products, meaning there's absolutely nothing I could order. With airlines going the same path, I might need to start packing my own meals for long-haul flights.
15 Feb 2014
Total posts 10
And have you noticed how often vegetarian options quietly disappear in favour of vegan? I like my dairy, eggs etc vegetarian food but it is harder to come by.
11 Mar 2012
Total posts 313
A Beyond Meat burger patty has 4-5 times the sodium of a regular burger patty. No thanks.
03 Aug 2022
Total posts 1
True. A beyond burger patty has around 380mg sodium (16% RDI), a very lean meat patty has about 80mg (but to put this in context a McDonald's Big Mac meal has 1,225mg of sodium . But this is only part of the story, the plant based patty has no cholesterol and significantly less fat. Either way, burgers are not a health food.
09 May 2020
Total posts 540
I am not a vegetarian but I have tasted very good Buddhist meals with mock meat, poultry and fish dishes with texture so real that I know it is not real meat only because it doesn’t necessarily look real enough (but with my eyes closed, almost the same thing). There are also some other straight vegetarian dishes that is out of this world. The trick is to find a good Buddhist restaurant, often not that easy to find in Australia. Their prices are expensive by most Asian eatery standard but nothing like the big name places like Rockpool, Spice Temple, Mr Wong’s, Red Lantern or some other places which has closed shop long before the pandemic
I am surprised that people is willing to pay big money for those lab grown meat patties or plant-based ‘meat’ as these meals, with ‘meat’ meals presented as if variations of ‘minced meat’ substitutes is the only game in town. I urge interested people to look out for good vegetarian restaurants and report back rather than simply make do with these current meat substitute fads
Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer
23 Sep 2017
Total posts 158
If people want to eat faux-foods by choice, feel free. By choice and not by imposition.
10 Dec 2019
Total posts 14
I'm here in the US. When meat was running short during the pandemic, the meat shelves were completely empty other than a nearly fully stocked "fake meat" section. Most people won't buy that junk even when there is a meat shortage.
McDonald's just tried it on their menu as a pilot here in the US. They just ended the trial and removed it from their menu.
QANTAS is going down the wrong path here, and it will cost them financially.
08 May 2020
Total posts 83
Nah I stick to my ordinary Diet, Vegies as Vegies and real Meat as meat
29 Jul 2017
Total posts 3
I get eating whole foods like a carrot or lettuce but why would anyone want to eat highly processed fake food if they care for their health. Goes against Qantas green tier as well as their is no sustainability in knocking over a forest to plant a field and build a factory to refine and package fake food in.
20 Nov 2015
Total posts 414
I suggest you do some reading about these artificial meats, Matt, they are far more sustainable than animal meats. You have to think beyond the obvious 'knocking over a forest and building a factory' thing and consider the footprint of raising all those livestock vs plant-based meats. Just do a little reading online about these meats and you'll see they in fact very very sustainable.
29 Jul 2017
Total posts 3
I won’t comment again, but have read lots on the subject, it’s fairly clear highly refined processed packaged food is not good for the planet or your body. I’ll take my sustainably grown whole foods from the earth any day over factory fodder. As for the reading, the science is with whole foods and what supports fake foods is paid for “marketing”, bit like tobacco for so long. All good, enjoy what you eat.
04 Aug 2022
Total posts 1
I'm a vegetarian for 50 years and I find all of the fake meats disgusting. Give us a nice pasta, veggies, salad, and soup and we will be quite happy. Thos are nearly indigestible, especially the Beyond burger. All over the world they are replacing a veggie burger ( made from brown rice, veggies, etc) with the fake meat. It's a fad item. I'm glad people are cutting down meat, but please give us fresh food! Especially you, Qantas!